The Christian Life
Contact with God is made first of all at the point of believing the
gospel. Our God has removed the wall which once separated
every human being from Himself. This wall was made up of several
distinct blocks. It included the fact that everybody is a
captive in the slave market of sin; that everybody is under the penalty of
spiritual death; that everyone is born physically with an old sin
nature; and thus separated from God; that we are in a state of sin that
violates the holiness of God so that His justice and His righteousness
condemn us; and, we find ourselves in the sight of God in the position
that the Bible calls “in Adam” which is the
position of eternal death and separation from God.
The Lord Jesus Christ in His death however on the cross paid the
penalty for all the sins of mankind, and with that one act centuries
ago removed this wall, this separation, between God and man.
So, salvation today is available as a free gift to anyone who wants
it. Christianity however is not a religion. We must
emphasize that it is a relationship with the person of the Lord Jesus
Christ. 1 John 5:11-12 tell us, “And this is the
record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His
Son. He that hath the Son hath life. He that hath
not the Son of God hath not life.”
Religion as it exists in our society today is actually a creation of
Satan. For that reason God rejects it entirely.
Religion is man trying by his own efforts to enter the favor and the family and the
blessing of God. Man by his own efforts, by his own works,
can never do this. He can never satisfy the justice and the
righteousness of God against him.
However, once a person has stepped across the line into the family of
God by accepting the salvation which Jesus Christ has provided upon the
cross, that person is now eligible for a very wonderful life which God
has prepared for him and which is open to him. This is a way
of life that we call “grace,” but it is a lifestyle
which we must learn from the Bible, the Word of God. God has provided
a way for every Christian to learn the grace way of living.
The Local Church
This provision is the local church with the teaching ministry which
will instruct this believer who has now entered the family of God in
the techniques and in the blessings that are involved in grace
living. Every Christian in this age of the church is his own
priest. Before God he is personally responsible for his own
spiritual development. There is no one else who will ever
have to account for what happens to you spiritually. Only you will
stand before God and account for that. As parents we are
responsible for our children until they come to an age of maturity. We
are responsible for their spiritual development. But once they
come to maturity, they’re on their own.
Many churches however do not understand their function as a training
station, but instead are engaged in a variety of programs which
preoccupy a Christian but do not lead him into spiritual
maturity. For this reason, most Christians never really go
beyond the babyhood stage in their spiritual years even though they may have
attended church for 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. They never
develop a sense of God’s guidance in their lives. They lack
that inner happiness because they don’t understand and have never
entered into the particular plan that God has for them as an
These immature Christians are suckers, consequently, for all kinds of
emotional manipulation and for false doctrine that comes to
them. They waste their lives in religious activities, and while
they’re producing human good, they fail to produce divine good.
Ephesians 4:14 describes these immature Christians in the words, “that
we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro and carried about
with every wind of doctrine by the slight of men and cunning craftiness
by which they lie in wait to deceive.”
The result is that these Christians are robbed of rewards in heaven
which God has promised for genuine Christian service. Every
man’s work shall be made manifest. That is, every
Christian’s service. “For the day shall
declare, for it shall be revealed by fire (the judgment of God), and the fire shall
test every man’s work of what sort it is. If any
man’s work abide which he hath built upon it (that is upon
the foundation of his salvation in Jesus Christ), he shall receive a
reward” (1 Corinthians 3:13-14).
Now this is not salvation. Salvation is not a
reward. Salvation is something that God gives us as a gift, but there are
rewards that every believer can have in heaven. What they
are, the Bible has not spelled out for us, but they are something tremendous
you may be sure. And yet most Christians are robbed of these
rewards which God gives for the production of divine good because the
Christian in the church in which he sits is never led into a knowledge
of the grace lifestyle.
The Old Sin Nature
All of us were born with a problem, and here’s where the
trouble starts. That problem is a sin nature. The only
person who was ever born into the race without a sin nature was the Lord Jesus
Christ. The book of Hebrews, chapter 4, the 15th verse tells
us that. This sin nature is inherited from our parents and
it’s passed on through the father. Because Jesus
Christ did not have a human father, He did not have a sin nature. It is
this sin nature that causes everyone to be born spiritually dead while he is
physically alive. Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you hath
He made alive (spiritually) who were dead in trespasses and
sins.” Dead spiritually while physically alive.
The sin nature is a problem that creates a separation in us from
God. For this reason our destiny is hell. For this
reason we cannot stand in the presence of God. We have an old sin
nature. At the point of believing the gospel, God makes us
spiritually alive and He changes our destiny from hell to
heaven. Our soul, in other words, is saved.
Now the sin nature, a Christian soon discovers, is not removed at the
point of salvation. Your sin nature does not go out of
operation. Instead, we call it the old sin nature because we
continue with it and it’s the nature that we inherited from
that first sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden. Romans 5:12 says,
“Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and
death by sin; and so death passed upon all men for all have
This old sin nature we take into the Christian life in a fully
operational status. Now here’s what this
means: It means that a Christian, while he is now in the family of God, while his
destiny is heaven, while eternal life is secure to him, it means that a
Christian can commit every ugly rotten thing that he was ever capable
of before he became a Christian. Now this comes as a real
shock, especially to a new Christian, to discover that the old sin nature is
still there. And everything that comes from this sin nature
is rejected by God.
It produces two main things. On the one hand it produces
sins. Mark 7:21-23 lists some of these for us, and God
rejects these—sins of the mind and sins outwardly
performed. The old sin nature, however, also produces this human good.
Isaiah 64:6 calls this human good “filthy rags” in
God’s sight. He rejects that.
So, whatever comes from the old sin nature God will have nothing to do
with it. But God has made a provision for us to control this
sin nature, to frustrate its production of sins and of human
good. Because we have been united to Jesus Christ permanently at salvation,
we can never be lost again. However, a Christian can be
controlled by the old sin nature just as if he were an
unbeliever. When we are controlled by the old sin nature,
we’re called “carnal.” That
means that we’re out of touch, or out of fellowship, with God.
A Christian on the other hand who is under the control of God the Holy
Spirit is called “spiritual.” That is the
Christian who can neutralize his old sin nature. And God has made a
very grand provision for this control. That provision is contained
in the Bible, the Word of God. We call it “bible
doctrine.” The word “doctrine”
simply means “teaching.” It means
“principals of life.” Now God has made a provision whereby you and
I may receive Bible doctrine, control the old sin nature, and enter into the
blessing and plan of God relative to the grace life.
Everybody learns in three ways. One of the ways is called
empiricism. That means learning through your five
senses. But the Bible tells us that we cannot learn spiritual things through
our senses. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is
written, ‘eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into
the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love
Another way of learning is through our minds—reasoning. But
rationalism, again, will not give us spiritual information. 1
Corinthians 2:11 says, “For what man knoweth the things of a
man except the spirit of man (that is the reasoning capacity of man) which
is in him. Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the
spirit of God.” Man cannot through his reasoning
capacities come to an understanding of God.
There’s only one way and that’s called
“faith.” That means
authority. This is the only method by which a person can
secure spiritual information. The book of Hebrews, in the great
chapter describing the heroes of faith: Hebrews 11:1 says,
“Now faith is the substance hoped for, the evidence of things not
seen. For by it the elders received witness.
Through faith we understand that the ages were formed by the Word of God so that
things which were seen were not made of things which do
appear.” Then the chapter goes on and tells what
people did who believed God.
Now faith in itself is of no value, but if it is in a proper object,
then it is of value. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ brings
eternal life. Faith in the teaching of the Word of God will
bring you control over the old sin nature and into the grace life.
Now God has a system therefore for gaining His point of view.
Divine viewpoint is possible for every believer. That means
that you can have God’s thinking; you can have God’s
feelings; and, you can have God’s decisions in your soul toward every
circumstance, toward every situation, and toward every person that you
deal with. Now this is a very wonderful thing. This
system of securing divine viewpoint is through learning Bible doctrine, and it
is a grace operation which means it’s not dependent upon your
human IQ. It is independent of your personal human
ability. Otherwise it wouldn’t be fair. As it is, everyone
is capable of learning spiritual things. You cannot improve your
human IQ but you can improve your spiritual IQ simply by learning
God has a way for building, therefore, spiritual maturity in our
souls. Our souls are made up of a mind, of emotions, and of a
will. The goal of the Christian life is that God should
possess each of these—that He should control and He should direct
it. Now what is the way this is achieved? How does
God control my mind? By learning doctrine. How does God
control my emotions? By learning doctrine so that my emotions can be
guided. How does God control my will, in the decisions I
make? Through learning doctrine so that consequently
I’m phased in with His will. But where is a believer going to get
Well God has set up and authorized one organization, and one
organization alone, in the church age. The organization that
God has authorized to perform the function of delivering doctrinal
instruction is the local church. And in every local church
God has given an authoritative teaching gift. This is called the
In Ephesians 4:12 this gift is described in its functioning and in its
operation. Verse 11 tells us that God gave to local churches
the gift of pastor-teacher. Then verse 12 goes on and says that
the purpose of the pastor-teacher gift is the perfecting of the
saints. The word “perfecting” means to
equip them. Then it says the reason that the pastor-teacher is
there to equip Christians is for the work of the ministry. That refers
to the individual Christian’s personal ministry, to prepare them
for spiritual service—the production of divine good through his
life. Then the last part of verse 12 says, “for the
edifying of the body of Christ.” That means for the
building up, for the development of spiritual maturity in every
Now here’s the chain reaction: If the
pastor-teacher performs his job of instructing the congregation in Bible doctrine,
then these Christians, as they respond to it, will be able to be
equipped for the work of the ministry. They’ll be
able to perform service which produces divine good, and the body of Christ
(believers) will be added and will mature.
But if a pastor-teacher fails in his role, then the whole structure
breaks down and nobody ever becomes really spiritually
mature. That’s why it’s important to be in the right kind
of church—the church that is producing this kind of
information. The pastor-teacher who is doing his job in
explaining the Bible will do it by teaching a book of the Bible
verse-by-verse, or an extended passage verse-by-verse, explaining what
God has said on the basis of the original languages. This
explanation will be related to everything that was the background,
historically, of that book at the time that it was written.
It will take into account all the grammatical significance.
A pastor-teacher, on the other hand, who merely gives inspirational
talks, can move the emotions of people and he can get them temporarily
to be doing things, but he has not developed long-range spiritual
maturity in them. He has failed in performing the job that 1
Peter 5:2 places upon him as a faithful pastor-teacher. 1
Peter 5:2 says, “Feed the flock of God which is among you; taking
the oversight of it, not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre
(that is, for money), but of a ready mind.”
It is the business of the pastor-teacher to feed the congregation, and
he either feeds them chaff and straw or he feeds them the substantial
diet of the Word of God. A pastor-teacher who does not
recognize that his goal is to train the minds of the people in doctrinal
understanding is a person who is opening that believer to emotional
manipulation by Satan. An emotionally controlled Christian is
easily led by Satan into all kinds of sins and into all kinds of
delusions and into all kinds of false practices. The result
is going to be the breakdown of the life of that believer. He
can never go on in the things of the Lord.
Now titillating the emotions of Christians may get them storming out in
a gung-ho fashion to do something for God, or you may move them by
coming up with gimmicks like a (stick-burning) service where everybody
gathers around a fire and throws in a stick and vows to do something
better for the Lord. None of these things develop spiritual
maturity but they are a downright hindrance to the working of the power
of the spirit of God in the believer. And you should never be
trapped by emotional appeals or gimmickry that the professional
ministry often will use. It takes a pastor, as a matter of
fact, that has some genuine spiritual insight and courage today to resist the
tide of propaganda and success stories that are flowing from smooth
professional ministers; for that pastor to stick with teaching Bible
doctrine to the minds of his congregation. It takes someone
with courage and someone who knows something as to what God values and what
People often equate numerical success with spiritual achievement and
with God’s blessing. But in spiritual things it is
historically demonstrated that the majority is always wrong.
So, numbers do not prove. The Lord Jesus Christ could have been
considered a failure for how few people after three years of ministry
stood by Him as His disciples. It is what truth has been
preached and accepted that is the issue—not numbers.
Our God is perfect, and therefore all of His plans are
perfect. His perfect plan includes a provision for every need that you and I as
Christians have. That need includes having a right church
with a right pastor—the place to develop the grace way of
life. A Christian who is in his wrong church will make little progress in
spiritual growth and in production of divine god. So, it is
imperative that every believer is able to distinguish between churches
that will enable him to move on to spiritual maturity and to
God’s maximum blessing for him, and churches that are going
to merely lead him into religious activities. Most Christians,
I’m sorry to say, are simply acting out some religious
role. They are not productive of divine good.
Once a believer understands how vital the local church is to his own
spiritual development and to the instruction of the knowledge of the
Word of God, he will soon discover a very startling fact. And
that is that churches which deliver that kind of information are few and far between.
So, spiritual maturity in the soul is what we’re
after. God has given us an operation. He has given us the accurate
revelation of the Word of God. He gives a pastor-teacher to
instruct the congregation in doctrine from the Scriptures, explaining
its meaning on the basis that is understandable to the
people. The believer learns this doctrine then he’ll either respond
to it by faith—he’ll accept it and he’ll
believe it, or he rejects it. If he accepts what he has learned, God teaches in
this way his human spirit. And this Word is now stored within
his being and God uses it to guide him in his daily walk.
This is the only way he can have guidance. He’s not
going to hear voices. He’s not going to see
visions. He’s not going to see writing in the sky. The only
guidance he can get for his soul is doctrine that he has learned and responded
to. With this he grows into spiritual maturity, and then he
has capacity to meet Satan’s attacks and to control the old sin nature.
This spiritual maturity in his soul is described actually in the form
of a structure of a building and the Bible tells us that Christians are
commanded to build such a structure. Jude 20 says,
“But ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.”
Facets of Spiritual Maturity
As we look through the Word of God, this structure will have several
facets to it, in the form of a pentagon. One side will be
grace orientation, to understand what grace is, against legalism.
It will have a mastery of the details of life where a Christian is not a
slave to the things of life. It will have a relaxed mental
attitude where he’ll have a mental attitude of love, and he
will be able to deal with people on a forgiving basis rather than in
expressions of bitterness. He will have the capacity to
love—to love God, to love the opposite sex, and to love his
friends. He will have a certain inner happiness that is not
dependent upon circumstances or people.
This is a pretty complete picture of maturity, and this is what
doctrine will build in a Christian’s soul. Now a
Christian who has this is a strong person. Yet a Christian cannot build
this if he sits in a church with a pastor who is not cranking out the
understanding of doctrine, where he is not, in short, an expository preacher.
The pastor-teacher is not called to say beautiful things, but he is
called to communicate doctrine. He is not to use his time in
socializing with people, but he is to use his time in study of the Word
of God so that when people gather, the flock can be really
fed. This is very vital. It is his duty to preach the Word so that
a believer can see himself, can see his condition, and get moving in the
right direction. James 1:23-25 tells us about the Word as a mirror.
So, a pastor has to be able to teach. He has to have the gift
of teaching. If a church has a pastor that is not engaged in
doing that in the church services in an authoritative way, no Christian can
get right with the Lord. Therefore, here at Berean Memorial
Church, we have geared this ministry to meeting this role. We
understand what we’re to be doing and we seek to do it in
various ways. We do it of course in the preaching services.
These services are expository teaching, book-by-book,
verse-by-verse. People do not gather to rap about their mutual spiritual
ignorance. But they gather to listen, to concentrate, and to
learn from the instruction which is delivered under the authority of
the pastor-teacher gift. You are your own priest, and what
you do with that instruction is up to you, between you and the Lord.
But you have the right to receive this instruction.
Now the gospel, therefore, is not the main topic in every one of our
services, though we may explain the gospel, and do, in order that those
who may come in who are unbelievers will understand what God expects of
them. But the service is geared to Christians.
Unbelievers do not attend church services. They spend Sunday morning
washing their cars, going to the washateria and out picnicking and any number
of other things. There are few unsaved people in church and
yet most church services are geared to the unbelievers, and the Christians are left to starve spiritually.
Our services seek to prepare Christians to be witnesses of Jesus Christ
in the areas of society in which they move in order to reach the lost
and to help believers gain doctrinal insights. Once a
believer learns to cope with his own problems, he can meet the pressures of life successfully.
The priesthood of every believer in this place is recognized, so we
respect the privacy of people. We don’t put our noses into
things that are your private personal business. There are no
pressures put upon the congregation. There are no offering
plates passed. We have an offering box because we want you to give
in perfect freedom and privacy. We don’t ask people to
make public moves to connote an association with God.
We also have a school program in order to bring spiritual
maturity. We sponsor the Berean Christian Academy for
kindergarten through the ninth grade. Every educational
system has to have some spiritual viewpoint. Everybody teaches from
a set of values, from a set of life values. It’s not
possible to teach without conveying some frame of reference of your values as a
teacher. Every school trains up a child for a specific way of
life. The viewpoint of the public non-Christian school is
secular humanism. That’s Satan’s viewpoint.
Consequently, the children who are in a public school are often denied
certain information that they should have. They are sheltered
from an introduction to the God who is there. They are
sheltered from the fact that God has made the universe and man. They
are not taught that man is basically evil. They’re
sheltered from the solution to this problem—the gospel of
salvation. They’re sheltered from Bible doctrine which gives the student
divine viewpoint for his life. They are sheltered from
learning two major features about good citizenship—to pray for
government leaders and to respect civil authority as stemming from God.
They are sheltered from learning the absolute learning the absolute moral
standards of God and the reality of divine guidance for their social
relationships and all the choices that they have to make in their lives.
For this reason, parents will send their children to Berean Christian
Academy, because they don’t want them sheltered from the real
world. They want them prepared to live in that world. The Bible very clearly declares that parents are responsible for their
child’s education. Proverbs 22:6 tells us we’re to train up a child in the way he should go. Ephesians 6:4 tells
fathers to rear their children in the nurture and admonition of the
Lord. So, parents are responsible. As Deuteronomy 6:6-7 told the Old Testament parents, they’re responsible for training
their children in divine viewpoint. This begins with salvation and then it moves to all areas of life.
Now obviously a parent can’t do this very effectively because
the child spends most of his time away from that mother and father. So, someone else has to perform this part of the Great Commission which
tells us to teach disciples, and that has to be a Christian school.
We also have a youth work. Berean Memorial Church sponsors Christian Service Brigade and Pioneer Girls. These are
vehicles for the instruction of youth in doctrinal principals of
living. Fully one-fourth or more of every meeting is spent in doctrinal
instruction—six clubs in weekly meetings covering grades
three through senior high. Experienced adult leaders through a
variety of activities and through their personal contact seek to lead every
member in these clubs to a personal life with Jesus Christ and a
maturity physically, spiritually, mentally, and socially.
Finally, one other area of the ministry here is the cassette
service. Bible doctrine instruction is made available without
charge on cassette tapes to anyone who wants to learn it. The
tapes cover basic Bible doctrine, books of the Bible, and special
topics such as marriage, prophecy, and war. These tapes are
given without charge because God deals with us on grace, so we give the tapes
on grace. We make no charge for them. They may be kept or they may be returned to us for further use.
Now for many believers, the failure of the local church to communicate
Bible doctrine makes tapes such as these the only source of
pastor-teacher instruction for that believer to have any hope of
building spiritual maturity in his soul so that he can control that
serpent that lies within his being in the form of the old sin nature,
so that he can move into the production of divine good and the rewards
that God is eager to give him.
So, God has been supplying the funds for the Berean cassette tape
ministry in this twentieth century through Christians that He moves
freely to contribute. We’re often urged to charge,
and this we will never do. This is God’s work, and if He
wants it to continue, if it’s meeting a need, then he’ll supply
the finances. We think that’s the grace way.
People who want a catalog of complete titles can secure this by phoning
214-253-7300. Or you can just write to the church and
we’ll send you a catalog. May God move you to begin learning
doctrine daily. May this be the beginning of days for you in your
spiritual life. Remember: Matthew 4:4 tells us that
man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of
the mouth of God.
Dr. John E. Danish, 1971
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